Olaleye Aluko and Justin Tyopuusu
The Nigerian Army on Saturday said its troops had arrested two alleged masterminds of the killings in the Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas of Taraba State, identified as Mr. Danjuma and Mr. Danasebe Gasama.
According to the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, Danjuma, also known as American, and Gasama were arrested on Friday by troops deployed for Operation Ayem Akpatuma in a community in Takum, following a tip-off.
Our correspondent could not ascertain whether the suspect, Danjuma, is related to a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), who is also from the Takum LGA in the state.
Danjuma had recently accused the Armed Forces of colluding with the Fulani herdsmen to attack and kill residents, urging the people to defend themselves as the military allegedly could no longer protect them.
The army spokesman said, “Preliminary investigation has identified these two individuals as key players in the killings and uprising in the two LGAs in the state. The general public is advised to always give useful and timely information to the security agencies for prompt action.”
Meanwhile, the Taraba State Government, on Saturday, expressed shock over the sudden withdrawal of military personnel deployed to enforce peace and security in the southern part of the state.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Bala Dan-Abu, the state government lamented what they described as the “unceremonious withdrawal” of the troops.
“The surprise is that no reason was given for the withdrawal and government was not aware. At the moment, the reason for the withdrawal of the soldiers is not known to us,” the statement added.
The Chairman of the Donga Local Government Area, Nashuka Ipeyen, told our one of correspondents that soldiers deployed in troubled spots in the local government started pulling out around 1am on Saturday.
Ipeyen explained that on receipt of the information, he quickly contacted the Commanding Officer, 93 Battalion Ada Barack Takum, Lt.-Col. Ibrahim Gambari, who said he ordered the withdrawal of the soldiers.
He said, “I complained to him over the withdrawal of soldiers because we received information that some villages were going to be attacked, but he told me that he couldn’t risk the lives of his soldiers.
“The Commanding Officer insisted that he was withdrawing the soldiers until the state government would write an undertaking to take responsibility if any of the soldiers is attacked or killed.
“I don’t know why the state government would have to do that for the soldiers when the attackers are killing civilians on a daily basis. Just a while ago, a Tiv man was shot dead in a village on the outskirts of Donga town here.
“However, I have made arrangements with the commissioner of police, who has since deployed three trucks of mobile police personnel to provide security for the people.”
But in a reaction, the Assistant Director Army Public Relations, 23 Brigade Yola, Maj. Kamarudeen Adegoke, denied that any soldier was withdrawn from the local government area.
“All our men are still stationed at their various duty posts. I don’t know where the state government got its information that troops have been withdrawn, but what I can confirm to you is that our men are fully on the ground,” he said.
Our correspondent, who was in Donga to monitor the situation of the Internally Displaced Persons, reports that five truckloads of army personnel were seen leaving the local government, even as military checkpoints along Rafinkada-Donga Road were empty without troops manning them.
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